Liesbeek Maintenance Project Report
By: James Cooper (Project Manager)
The River Team
For the first 2 weeks of September the 4 team members continued to work 3 days of the week. As of the 10 September the team started working 4 days a week and a new team member, Sivuyile, has joined the team for the extra days work on a Friday. David Nyalethela continues to work else where on a Friday and only works 3 days of the week. The extra day of work has been made possible due to Grant in Aid funding received from the city. The agreement specifies that this funding may only be used to employ staff to clean the banks of the Liesbeek from the N2 down to the weir in Observatory. Cleaning the banks does not take the whole day so the team currently work half the day cleaning the banks and the other half working on removing Parrots Feather and Purple Loosestrife.
As of October the team will be working 5 days a week on the river. This will now include working on a Tuesday to follow up on the control of Purple Loosestrife. This is being funded by SANBI, Early Detection and Rapid Response. This is fantastic news and the team could possibly be contracted to clear other alien plants through organisations in the future as their skills develop.
Litter trap project and International Coastal Cleanup
This year for International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), held on the 18 September, the Liesbeek Maintenance team constructed and installed a 56 m long litter trap on Liesbeek Lake in Observatory.
The trap was made of 136 plastic bottles (collected along the Liesbeek) stitched in shade netting around a length of rope with wire hooks attached on the underside of the netting. Each end of the trap was tied to metal stakes on either side of the river and left to trap litter for a week before the ICC. The team spent a day on the boat ‘stirring’ up litter caught in the reeds in the area to allow it to flow back into the river and get caught in the trap.
The trap worked extremely well and on the day of the cleanup a total of ten Tuffy bags were filled with the various items caught in the trap. The exact numbers of the different items e.g. Plastic bottles, paper etc still needs to be forwarded to the Maintenance Project Manager.
Fig. The litter trap with litter spanning the width of the river
Fig. Franscine Bekker (middle), her son (right) and another volunteer during the ICC
Removal of Parrots Feather in Liesbeek Lake
For the past month the team has been manually removing the Parrots Feather that has invaded Liesbeek Lake. The area has become so overgrown that fishing and model boat sailing activities have been halted. The team have been removing the weed from the bank, in waders and from the boat using forks. This has been extremely time consuming and much of this month was spent on this project.
We have now designed and constructed a weed trap out of rope and barb wire that we can drag across the width of the river using the vehicle and catch most of the weed. We will make a modification and attach the wire to a long metal pole instead of rope to increase the effectiveness of this technique. This will be ongoing until we have refined our clearing techniques and the area has been comprehensively cleared.
Weekly cleanups in Observatory
Earlier in the year the Friends of the Liesbeek applied for Grant in Aid funding to clean the river banks between the weir before the SAAO and the N2 crossing. The application was successful and since the 10 September the Liesbeek Maintenance Team spends every Friday morning cleaning the banks of all the litter in this area. In the afternoons the team have been clearing Parrots feather and Purple Loosestrife.
Litter clean ups
The team continued with weekly cleans from Newlands Swimming Pool to the siding in Rondebosch and cleaning the banks in Observatory and undertook the monthly cleans at Paradise Park, Riverside rd and River Park.
The team has completed weeding all the flowerbeds from Roslyn Park in Rondebosch up to South African Breweries in Newlands. They have also weeded the site before Belmont Bridge.
Cleaning Alfred stream
There was no need to clean Alfred stream this month.
The team have been trimming the paths regularly in Rondebosch due to the sudden spring growth. We are concentrating on the area from Breweries to Riverside Mall.
There has been no canal maintenance this month.
Alien vegetation removal
The team concentrated on removing Kikuyu grass and Nasturtiums from the rehabilitation site behind Newlands Swimming Pool on a weekly basis. The team also removed Balloon Vine, Moth catcher and Parrots Feather during daily activities.
Other City department activities
James met with City parks regarding ward allocation for ward 59, from San Souci – Siding. The list of items that will be done has been sent to City Parks and Liz Wheeler.
Roads and Storm water
Roads and storm water department continue to collect our Tuffy bags every Friday or Saturday at sites along the Liesbeek. Peter Koen could not meet the project manager regarding the removal of Parrots Feather. This will be done at the beginning of October and hopefully we can get some assistance to clear this invader as quickly as possible.
Displaced people Unit
The displaced people unit was contacted once to remove a vagrant who had taken up residence under the Dean Street Bridge.
The manager has been able to organise herbicide training for the team which will commence before the end of the year. This was possible thanks to our partnership with SABI, Early Detection and Rapid Response, who we worked with in clearing Purple Loosestrife earlier in the year. The idea is that the Liesbeek team will undertake the training and then form a Purple Loosestrife clearing team which will be funded by the Early Detection and Rapid Response Unit, to do follow up clearing of Loosestrife annually. This will give them valuable experience in mapping and alien invasive species control.
The Project manager designed and posted a flyer for International Coastal Cleanup on the website. Other stats and photographs of the day will be posted when it becomes available.
Julia Wood (head of the Biodiversity branch of City) came to meet the team and they explained some of the work that they are doing along the Liesbeek and their main points of interest. This has the potential to open up employment opportunities for the team members in the future.
The Maintenance Project manager met with Amy, an international student, who would like to draw up a species list for the Liesbeek. She will begin at the beginning of October. The manager has decided to send a different team member with her on a rotational basis while she conducts the study. This will help them become familiar with what species are found on the river and why we conduct the work that we do.
There were beautiful sightings of Malachite Kingfishers every day we were in Observatory and the Giant white pelicans were seen on 3 occasions in Liesbeek Lake.